Facebook is the future. No it isn’t. Yes it is. No it isn’t!

December 18 2014 - Mark Phillips

On Monday, I shared some thoughts on social media, with a particular focus on Facebook and Twitter.

My central point was that there are better routes to leverage the power of our social instinct than these two behemoths of the internet.

Beate Sorum, of the digital fundraising consultancy – b.bold – disagreed with me. As you'll see from her blog post, she thinks Facebook can be a great fundraising medium. And just because most charities don't have a Facebook plan, show very little care about what they post, fail to engage with followers and have no recognisable personality, it doesn't mean the channel itself is flawed.

Now, I think Beate is fantastic. If there’s one person you should listen to about digital fundraising it’s Beate. If I know she’s going to speak at a conference, I’ll be in the room, frantically tweeting ever drop of wisdom she shares.

And I think Beate is right on many points in her post. Facebook can be improved if fundraisers use it more effectively.

But that doesn't mean I've changed my mind.

We can do better than Facebook.

I'm not saying we turn our backs on it, but our ambitions shouldn't be restricted by what Facebook (or Twitter) can offer us.

As I say in my original post, I don't have an argument with recruiting donors and volunteers through Facebook advertising. We do both at Bluefrog for different clients. It can also be great for campaigns (as I also said). So no problem there either.

But the fact is, Facebook isn't designed to build engaging relationships with donors. And as such, we are working within an environment that restricts us – no matter how hard we try.

Wouldn't it be great if we could give our donors a place where they felt special?

Where they could be part of stories that unfold over time that show them what they have helped achieve?

Where they could be effectively recognised and rewarded?

Where we could manage cancellations?

Where we could give them a chance to upgrade their regular gifts or give additional donations with a few clicks?

Where we could look at their on site behaviour and construct communication materials that take those actions into account?

Just because we have Facebook, it doesn't mean that we should stop striving for better.

The Forrester report that sparked my original post showed that much of the money and resources expended on Facebook was wasted. It also showed that branded social hubs were better at engaging people. And that has been my experience with social sites created for charities – with one caveat.

And this is where I firmly agree with Beate. Any medium will fail unless we deliver content that is valued and relevant. If we don't provide that, it doesn't matter how great our channel is, it will sink without trace.

  • Yes… BUT…

    I would at least insert one more thing. As humans, don’t some of us use these channels very WELL to build an engaging relationships? I would say, in some ways, FACEBOOK or Twitter or Instagram are AMAZING tools for building on a newly forming relationship. Look at you and I Mark – How much do we know about and respect each other in our personal and professional lives because of these tools! I would say we are using them very well!

    Where most charities fall short is they stop THINKING like humans and start ACTING like “brands” where they are told to be PROFESSIONAL and maintain certain lines of messaging… Like B says – Shit in, shit out.

    You don’t blame a hammer for bending nails, you blame the holder of the hammer.

  • Firstly great blog site with lots of interesting articles.

    I think Facebook has turned from a social people to people website to a now social business to people website.

    Frankly I think crowdfundraising is an interesting way forward but has yet to take off.